Partner Alluvial Soils Workshop
Partner Alluvial Soils Workshop
Alluvial Soils Workshop
On April 14, 2011 a unique event focused on management of alluvial soils was
conducted by an interdisciplinary team from 3 separate government agencies.
The goals of the meeting were: increasing awareness of
serious erosion issues with alluvial soils, exploring options to lessen sediment
loads and promoting protection of floodplain soils with a variety of
conservation practices. Sediment washed into Vermont's rivers and streams
from agricultural fields is a water quality concern as far as turbidity and
phosphorus pollution in Lake Champlain. Staci Pomeroy from the River Management
Program from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, Ben Gabos
from the Vermont Agency of Agriculture and Caroline Alves from the USDA Natural
Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) all combined efforts to develop the agenda
and conduct the workshop.
The workshop started with a flume table demonstration of river processes. Next, there was a presentation on the highly variable nature of alluvial
soils, in terms of texture and drainage. With a better understanding of
the dynamic riverine environment, the next topic covered some case studies
- illustrating practices that can be put in place to prevent massive soil
erosion - that can so easily occur in these highly vulnerable areas. The morning
wrapped up with a panel discussion led by Kip Potter of NRCS - centered on policy issues and finding
better ways to flag these soils as contributors of sediment. NRCS
does not rate alluvial soils as HEL, or Highly Erodible Land, since floodplains
always have flat slopes and scouring from water flow from rivers is not taken
into account with the HEL rating system. Representatives from the Farm
Service Agency (USDA-FSA), Friends of Northern Lake Champlain, The Nature
Conservancy (TNC), NRCS, and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture all participated
on the panel. The 30 attendees (from NRCS, Extension Service, Conservation
Districts, University of Vermont and agricultural consultants) all had
excellent input to the discussion as well.
In the afternoon, there was a field trip to the Boissoneault Farm where Ben
Gabos had worked with Jason Boissoneault to install a variety of practices to
revegetate areas that had re-occurring sizable erosion problems from flood
waters. Economically, the dollar return from participating in the conservation
programs in this situation is much better than the loss of revenue with corn
plants and fertilizer being washed away or inundated by sediment every year.
Much of the field area can still be planted to corn. That afternoon the water
was over the banks of the Lamoille River and running through the flood chutes so
there was a chance to see how the practices were working to hold soil in place,
in real time.
We are hoping to hold a similar Alluvial Soils Workshop in the spring of 2012 in
southern Vermont - stay tuned. There is a real need to work cooperatively and
continue these discussions with the many agencies and individuals involved river
management. Local agricultural production is supported by many around the state,
so methods to improve water quality and prevent soils loss from these highly
productive alluvial soils is of crucial concern.
Contact: Caroline Alves, 802-865-7895 ext. 203,